Wednesday, June 24, 2009

U.S. soccer scores back-to-back `miracles'

I was in a restaurant having lunch with my family on Wednesday when cheers erupted from the bar. No, John Daly wasn’t buying a round for the house. Upon further review, there were people actually watching TV and cheering for a goal by the United States in the Confederation Cup.

Big deal? You bet. It was confirmation that someone cares about soccer in this country.

Two weeks ago, Sports Illustrated had a tiny article in its publication – on page 33, right after horse racing – that basically implied that Bob Bradley’s job as coach of the U.S. team was under fire. The Americans had been embarrassed in a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica – think New York Yankees being swept by the Washington Nationals – then needed to rally for a 2-1 over Honduras (think Baltimore Orioles) in North and Central American qualifying for the World Cup. Ask most Americans to name a player on the U.S. team and they might get Landon Donovan but no one else.

The Americans and Bradley appeared irrelevant until Wednesday. They essentially produced back-to-back miracles. First, they somehow managed to get to the semifinals of the Confederation Cup in South Africa only because they needed the improbable combination of Egypt losing to them by three goals (and they did) and Italy losing to Brazil by three goals (and they did). Then, in the semifinals, though being outshot 29-9, Team USA upset heavily-favored Spain, the world’s No. 1 ranked team, 2-0.

“This is an accident,” Spain’s coach, Vincente del Bosque, said.

Accident?  Do you believe in miracles? Twice? We’re talking “Miracle on Grass” stuff here.

The Americans will now play in the Confederation Cup championship on Sunday, the first time since 1916 the U.S. has played in a men’s FIFA finals. Think Boston Red Sox and Curse of the Bambino.

Maybe this was an “accident.” Or maybe this was just a shot-in-the-dark day for American soccer. Either way, it should bring some attention to soccer in the United States. That’s a miracle in itself.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home